Myan­mar most dis­as­ter-prone in South­east Asia: of­fi­cial

The Myanmar Times - - News - PYAE THET PHYO pyae­thet­phyo@mm­times.com

MYAN­MAR has more nat­u­ral dis­as­ters than any other coun­try in South­east Asia, ac­cord­ing to Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment Depart­ment di­rec­tor U Win Htein Kyaw.

“When it comes to dis­as­ter oc­cur­rence in South­east Asia, Myan­mar seems to be first or sec­ond on the list,” he said at the In­ter­na­tional Day for Dis­as­ter Re­duc­tion cer­e­mony last week.

His claim is buf­feted by the sev­eral in­ter­na­tional rak­ings of nat­u­ral dis­as­ter vul­ner­a­bil­ity, in­clud­ing UN OCHA’s list of most at-risk Asia-Pa­cific coun­tries.

Most re­cently, the UN’s The 2016 Global Cli­mate Risk re­port iden­ti­fied as one of 20 coun­tries in a “con­flict­cli­mate nexus”, a com­bi­na­tion of se­vere en­vi­ron­men­tal vul­ner­a­bil­ity along with pre-ex­ist­ing so­cial fragility and weak in­sti­tu­tions.

The re­port cited 2008’s Cy­clone Nar­gis as an ex­am­ple of the kind of sit­u­a­tion that can emerge from such vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties.

In May 2008, Cy­clone Nar­gis struck the Aye­yarwady delta, killing nearly 140,000 peo­ple and im­pact­ing about 2.4 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial fig­ures.

Last year, flood­ing and Cy­clone Komen killed dozens and im­pacted mil­lions of peo­ple.

U Win Htein Kyaw said de­for­esta­tion, pol­lu­tion and ex­trac­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources, like sand and gold, are ex­ac­er­bat­ing these nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

“Be­cause of these changes, nat­u­ral dis­as­ters are oc­cur­ring more fre­quently ev­ery year,” he said. “Peo­ple are greedy and they take out more nat­u­ral re­sources than they need, caus­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age and cli­mate change.”

Climb­ing pop­u­la­tion fig­ures and in­creased car­bon emis­sions are also im­pact­ing cli­mate change, he said.

“Dis­as­ters hap­pen be­cause of peo­ple and their waste prod­ucts,” U Win Htein Kyaw said. “They are the main rea­son. If they can­not con­trol them­selves, nat­u­ral dis­as­ters will hap­pen reg­u­larly.”

– Trans­la­tion by Khant Lin Oo

Photo: Staff

A man walks un­der a bill­board de­stroyed by 2008’s Cy­clone Nar­gis.

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